“I told you,” he says.
I stop him before he can finish.
“No you didn’t, you told me your name. I’m asking who you are.”
He looks amused. The smile plastered on his face turning almost playful. He stretches the waiting before he answers to a long minute, and when he speaks there is something in his voice that I haven’t heard before.
“I am Mr D. I think you might be more comfortable with the more popular names I have been given culturally. I find those quite funny. Even more the rigidity with which I have been characterised. It feels like I am based after a character from the creation of some grand minds. Which is quite true, considering that all those are creations born from slight discoveries of the true nature. Anyways, let me explain it in a setting that makes is easier for you to understand. I know from experience that people find it easier to believe in the face of sights too incredible to believe.”
I see now how much he likes to speak, and how hard restraint must be. Or maybe they both come easy. I cannot know. All I can do, must do, is keep up.
As he turns away, the scene changes. We are no longer outside the theatre in which are the doctors working on Aniya. We are in darkness again, but this feels different. It feels like an endlessly stretching darkness, wider than the widest sea. The comfort in the darkness is frightening. There is also another feeling, strong despite how small it is. I don’t know what it is, but there it is, strengthening continually.
“So, here we are, how we started it,” he says, grinning from ear to ear like a showman presenting his greatest act on stage to a spellbound audience.
He waits until I peel my eyes off him and look around. As if that is his intention, as if awaiting my appreciation of what he shows. And it is appreciation I must give, because spellbound I am. It takes me a while to understand why the darkness is so different. I couldn’t understand how, but we were in space. Far beyond anywhere I could have imagined myself at. Earth sitting below us.
I had seen the scene in many movies, on tv, in school. The sight of the blue earth against the dark canvas of space. The scene in front of me is grander than any of those. A thousand times more beautiful. I take a minute to let it all sink in. And then, turn back to Mr D who looks with an expression of pleasure on his face.
“So, here we are,” he repeats. “The world you know. And the system that keeps it running.”
He gives me a minute to enjoy the view. Then with a snap of his fingers, we are back in the hospital. In my room. I am strapped to my bed. He sits by me. Smiling. Not really concerned about my question being answered. Content with the assumption of it being so. I understand the references he makes, and I have an inkling of an idea of who he might be. Though I cannot be completely sure. It doesn’t matter though, because he has me convinced. Aniya can be saved. And nothing else matters.
“How come you don’t know what happened?” I ask, the most important question I can think of.
“Of course you would assume we would know everything. But that’s not how it is. We left all of this free. And we created a system to keep it all in check. All of that was to give ourselves the freedom, for the more pleasurable things. We can thus not be there at all the places all the time. Whatever happened, neither of us has seen. Thus we don’t know.”
“Why is it so important? What do you mean when you say it was no accident? Just what is going on? And what do you want me to find?”
Exasperation drowns my voice. It is really hard to keep a grip on myself with so much happening. It is a struggle I am failing at. I need some sense, and I can only look at him to give me that.
He looks almost sorry, as he answers.
“Ani, there is a lot we don’t know. Among them are the answers to your questions. What I do know, is that this was no accident. Because the moment of the accident, the system was overwhelmed. There was a spike of activity that was well beyond the furthest stretches of normal. And it lasted a very short while. Brief few seconds. Even before we could turn our attention to it, it was gone. Almost like an explosion. All of it centred around your accident.”
“An explosion,” I repeated blankly.
“Yes, an explosion the residue of which was the devastation of your family.”
“Because you are still here. None of the others are.”
“And you want me to find out about the explosion?”
That is the end of the conversation. There was an explosion, that destroyed my family. It was no accident. Killed the grown ups. Has Aniya on the brink. And I am to find out what happened. It sounds too fantastic to believe. I know though, there is no choice. It must be fate. It is a responsibility I must accept, even if I have not the slightest idea.
“I am sorry for you Ani, for what you have to go through. For all the pain you must be burdened under. But I must ask this of you, for your sake too.”
He seems to know exactly what to say, to make me feel better. To answer the questions I can’t put into words. To direct my head exactly where he wanted.
There is a lot that still doesn’t make sense, but I have a feeling I would find the answers along the search. As much as I would like to have Mr D explain everything, I remember what he pointed out earlier. Aniya is teetering. If there is a way to help her, save her, then I must find it.
I feel like I’m being goaded. There is something he is not telling me. Maybe he will if I ask him, but I don’t even know what to ask. For now, I must do with what I have, with what little he has given me. If something did happen, and if it really was in my head, then I must be able to find it going back.
“What do I do now?” I ask.
He looks at me, for the first time unsure. Waiting for me to finish the question.
“Where do I start?”
He hesitates, a second too long, and I notice. He knows the answer, why wouldn’t he just tell me? What is keeping him?
“Where?” I repeat, harder than I intended.
The blank expression returning to his face, he answers. And I know in that second he hesitated for my benefit.
“With your parents.”